Interior of therapist Alexis Castorri’s office in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. The waiting room has large framed pictures of marlins adorning the walls and numerous copies of AARP magazine. Inside Castorri’s private office there is a long, white leather couch that rests on an teal-colored rug. On her large mahogany desk sits a personal computer, a stack of patient files, a Dan Marino bobblehead doll, and leftover Bang-Bang chicken and shrimp from lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Andy Murray enters the office and takes a seat on the couch. Castorri sits in an upright chair directly across from him. This is their year-end evaluation.
AC: Hello, Andy. I’m so glad we were able to squeeze in this session. I’ve been eager to talk with you about your past season and to look ahead to 2013. How have you been?
AM: Not bad. I think I’ve been at a tolerable level of crabbiness. Maybe even pleasant.
AC: I’m happy to hear it. You have every right to be pleased. Winning the gold at the Olympics and your first Grand Slam title must keep you in a better emotional place. What have those two wins done for you?
AM: Well I don’t ball my fists anymore when I walk into a press conference after a loss. I don’t shoot daggers at Neil Harmon for asking me: “What happened in the second set, Andy?” He’s seen a million tennis matches; he bloody well knows what happened in the second set. Other times, though, I can’t stop losses from getting me frustrated. I want to listen to old Blink-182 and break things.
AC: I realize your career is a results-driven one, but we’ve discussed the pitfalls of relying on wins and losses to determine your worth. What has been bothering you lately?
AM: Let’s see: I blew match points – five of them – against Novak in the finals of Shanghai. I lost to somebody named Jerzy Janowicz in Paris; sounds like a con man on Boardwalk Empire. Then I ended the year losing – again – to Novak and Roger in the Tour Finals. Kind of finishing the season with a whimper.
AC: Andy, you’re a creative and technical genius. But even with all that skill, you have to accept that on occasion you may fail.
AM: That’s kind of you to say, but hitting a drop shot from behind the baseline down double break point isn’t inventive – it’s a cop out. Just because it worked doesn’t make it brilliant.
AC: Sounds like you still need to work on your relaxation techniques. When I worked with Lendl we had him practice yoga and jazzercise.
AM: Those seem a little fruity to me. If Sean Connery heard I was doing them he’d never talk to me again. Pierce Brosnan, maybe, but not Sean. Boxing is what I like to do to release aggression. That, and make jokes about Brad Gilbert. Stupid pocket squares.
AC: Boxing may release some anger, but it’s not going to help you relax when pressure builds during a match. I find it even stokes a person’s aggression. I’ve noticed you still shout things to your friends box when things are tight. What are you thinking about when you look over there?
AM: Lots of things. Nonsense, really. Is Pippa following me? Should my Black Ops online handle be BallsofMurray87? But mostly that my mum needs a new haircut. I mean I don’t know how much longer she can rock the Lois Griffin.
AC: Nothing about Ivan? Do you have trouble relating to him at times? I realize you have very different personalities and playing temperaments?
AM: Why? Because I’m a stubbed toe away from a possible Three Mile meltdown and he can play with sawdust dripping from his eyelashes?
AC: Something like that. How are things progressing with him?
AM: Fine, I guess. Can’t really complain about the results. Until I started working with him I never realized how much fun it is to crack sitters at your opponents’ sack. Although some of his advice needs freshening up. One of the first things he ever told me was to never play cards for money before a match with my opponents or their entourage, like he used to with Connors. I learned that the hard way years ago playing hearts against Dean Goldfine in Umag.
AC: He’s just trying to protect you from the mistakes that he made. Have you two discussed your goals for 2013.
AM: Wimbledon. Getting to No. 1 would be nice, too, but it’s all about getting one match better than last year. Sure, I’m happy to retire that “best to not to win a Slam” anchor, but the US Open doesn’t cut it back home. Wimbledon is the real prize. Then it’s hello knighthood and a regular role on Downton Abbey. I’m thinking Andrew Greengrass, Earl of Flushing.
AC: I understand. Ivan felt the same way. It was the only Slam he couldn’t win. Do you ever talk about that with him?
AM: No. We don’t discuss winning Wimbledon. It’s like Chinatown.
AC: Of course. Painful memories of loss can be difficult to dredge up. But at least you lost the final to Federer. There’s no shame in that. He has to live with coming up short to Pat Cash.
AM: I see the pain on him every day. The guy only pays for things with credit cards.
AC: This all sounds like healthy progression to me. I believe in you, Andy. I believe you’ll have another positive year in 2013. (The phone on her desk rings). I’m sorry, but you’ll have to excuse me a moment – my office assistant is out today and I need to take this. (She gets up out of her chair and picks up the phone.) Hello…Yes, this is she…Yes, I’m quite experienced working with athletes recovering from a humiliating loss and a recurring injury. It’s all about regaining their confidence…I appreciate he needs to maintain a low profile, but I can assure you his name won’t leave this office…Great, let me just write that down in my appointment book: N-A-D-A-L…Well, I look forward to meeting him, too. (Looks over at Murray.) Trust me, I can work wonders.